Collaborating Producer: Garth Shaw, Fairview
Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye
From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2012 Annual Report
Cattle can be used to introduce legumes into pastures. The method is an inexpensive renovation technique that can be used to improve pastures over a 3 to 4 year period. Livestock seeding works because "hard seeds" found in legume seed lots pass through the animal's digestive tract and remain viable. However, quick germinating seeds are killed. Reports have shown that it takes 24-72 hrs for the seed to travel through the digestive tract. The seed will not germinate in freshly excreted feces. The feces must break down first and be thinly distributed on the soil. Sward composition is an important consideration when deciding on the types of forage mixture and the seeding rates. The objective of the present study is to assess livestock seeding of Anik alfalfa—cicer milkvetch mix in pasture rejuvenation.
The site is located in Fairview at Garth Shaw’s farm. A 50 acre pasture paddock is being used for the study. The site consisted of mainly bromegrass and alfalfa. Before any grazing started, plant composition through plant sampling method with a 0.5m x 0.5m quadrat was carried out. For the plant composition, different forage species present were identified and their dry weights determined. This will enable us to assess any improvements in the paddock in 2013 and thereafter. There were 3 treatments (see Figure 1 below): 1) broadcast of Anik alfalfa-cicer milkvetch mix (1 acre), 2) livestock seeding of Anik alfalfa-cicer milkvetch mix (48 acres) and 3) check - no seeding (1 acre). Seeding rate for the mix was 2.3 lb/acre of Anik alfalfa + 3.4 lb/ acre cicer milkvetch. The study commenced on June 20, 2012 with broadcast seeding. Grazing of the entire paddock started 2 days later. Assessments of the site will continue for 2 to 3 years.
The site was marked out and electric fence was used for the border between livestock seeding and broadcast/ check sections. Figure 1 shows the plot layout and the order of grazing. For the broadcast section, an ATV mounted spreader was used to broadcast the seeds at a speed of 9 MPH (Picture 1). The ATV mounted spreader covered about 25 feet in width per pass. After broadcasting the legume mix, the site was grazed by cows to create animal impact on the broadcast seeds.